So much can change in seven days.
One Saturday it’s all sunshine and pumpkins and leaves blazing against blue skies, and the next it’s wet sticks and relentless wind, the willow’s branches swept bare. I scoffed at Cane a week ago when he suggested that it would be our last sunny day until spring, then conceded that, perhaps, it was the last of a certain kind of sunny day. But I didn’t mean it. I thought we’d surely have more.
I was wrong.
The coleus plants that have flourished in our window box since August withered in days, and the pumpkins on our front porch seem suddenly garish. One afternoon I stepped outside to carry our old Daisy down the steps she now too often stumbles upon and was surprised by the cold that bit me right through my sweater. In just a week our corner of the world went from glorious to grubby and grim.
So now we turn inward, toward candlelight, simmering soups, woolly socks, and soft blankets. These are the weeks–this short lull between holidays–for sitting away a whole afternoon in a cafe with an old friend. For playing a game in front of a fire, and clearing a table to hold the pieces of a puzzle. It’s the beginning of wondering where another year has gone and of pondering what we’ll make of the next. Tonight darkness will descend before we’re ready for it, and we’ll feel something inside ourselves hunkering down for the long haul of winter, even though its supposed beginning is still weeks away.
I’m more than a little sorry to let go of what feels like true autumn, those afternoons of kicking crisp leaves with boots that feel new simply because it’s been so long since we’ve worn them. But this late stage is just a different kind of true, one that tests our loves in ways that easy days never do.